2nd Anniv Rohith Vemula's Death, January 17, 2018: ABVP Student allegedly Insults Prof
On January 17, 2018 it will be two years since the 'institutional murder of Rohith Vemula.' Hyderabad University will commemorate the second death anniversary of 26-year-old Dalit student Rohith Vemula, who committed suicide on campus after alleging that he was being persecuted by university officials on account of his caste. VC Appa Rao Podile temporarily removed by the Modi-Smriti Irani combine when the outrage was at its height, was cynically re-instated in March 2016 after violence was unleashed on students and teachers on campus.
As Rohith's close associates friends plan to commemorate his death, the sprawling campus is witnessing tensions between the RSS' touth wing, the ABVP and Dalit students. It was the ABVP that has been largely held responsible for the spate of attacks on Ambedkarite students at the HCU. What has provoked this tension is a cynical Facebook post from two months ago that abuses K Laxminarayana, a professor in the school of economics who is a Dalit. The language used is sic.
"Bastard Laxminarayana now preaching what is saffronisation. He even don't know basics of Economics and now preaching about Saffronisation. He has became professor only because of his blackmailing tricks." The invective is the offering of Karan Palsaniya, a PhD student in the History department. He is also a senior leader of the ABVP, not just in Hyderabad - he is a national co-convenor.
The pathetic thing is that this comment was posted on a Facebook page handled by a group of students from the university which Professor Laxminarayana has been associated with for nearly 30 years. He is also a former president of the University of Hyderabad Teachers' Association. Days after the Facebook post, he wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Vice Chancellor, describing it as "highly derogatory, objectionable and targeting my dignity and humble social background from which I rose to the post of professorship".
The professor requested the university to initiate action against the student. Not surprisingly, he has received no response from the Vice Chancellor, Appa Rao Podile, or any other official.
The abuse by the students owing allegience to the ABVP followed an exam paper set by Professor Laxminarayana in which he included two questions that appeared critical of the national government's policies including the "saffronisation of education."The professor says "The questions were in the context of the present government's educational policies. No one from the University teaching faculty or its officials raised any objections to the questions. So how can a student of some other discipline attack me in this vicious manner? The intent was to humiliate me publicly by using abusive language. It vitiated the atmosphere on the campus. Surely the officials recognise the urgency of resolving such matters especially after Rohith Vemula's suicide."
Media reports state that university administration has used the winter break as an excuse saying that this prevented urgent action as requested by the professor and that Mr Palsaniya has been asked to explain his comments to a committee on Wednesday: the second-year anniversary of Rohith Vemula's death.
It was in August 2015, Vemula was suspended along with four other Dalit students for being "casteist, extremist and anti-national." The action followed a complaint against him by the ABVP. Vemula was a member of the Ambedkar Students Association. There was a history of strain between the two groups that had been getting tauter. The ABVP said that one of its leaders had been so badly injured by Vemula and his group that he was hospitalized. After his fellowship payment was suspended, Vemula was told to leave his hostel. He moved into a tent on the campus as part of a sit-in protest. In January 2016, he was found dead in a friend's room in the University; he had hanged himself.